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Palo Alto may turn down the sound at Lytton Plaza

City Council to consider a proposal for time restrictions on amplified sound at prominent plaza

Palo Alto's most prominent downtown gathering spot may become a bit more subdued under a new proposal to restrict amplified sound at Lytton Plaza.

The City Council will consider on Monday night whether to set time limits on amplified sound at Lytton Plaza. The recently renovated plaza, located at University Avenue and Emerson Street, has long enjoyed a status as the city's "free speech" zone and is often used by musicians.

But the entertainment at Lytton Plaza hasn't always been music to the ears of local merchants. In recent months, businesses have lobbied the city to impose time and use restrictions on amplified sound at the plaza. Merchants have complained that the sound during daytime is too loud while residents said the music is too loud late at night.

According to a new report from the Community Services Department, the electrical outlets in the plaza had other "unintended consequences."

"People have used the outlets to power portable stereos, heaters, stoves and various other household outlets," the report states. "The plaza has become a 'draw' for people seeking use of 'free' electricity."

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The city's Parks and Recreation Commission has spent more than a year considering a variety of ideas for dealing with the problem. After scrapping a prior plan that would have required permits for amplified sound, the commission voted on Aug. 28 to accept a less stringent proposal that would permit amplified sound on a first come, first-served basis. This would be allowed between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, between noon and 11 p.m. on Saturdays and between noon and 10 p.m. on Sundays.

There would be no permits required for using the plaza during the standard hours, but those looking to reserve a time in advance can obtain a permit for $90. City-sponsored and permitted events would have priority.

The council will consider this proposal on Nov. 19.

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Palo Alto may turn down the sound at Lytton Plaza

City Council to consider a proposal for time restrictions on amplified sound at prominent plaza

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 15, 2012, 9:48 am

Palo Alto's most prominent downtown gathering spot may become a bit more subdued under a new proposal to restrict amplified sound at Lytton Plaza.

The City Council will consider on Monday night whether to set time limits on amplified sound at Lytton Plaza. The recently renovated plaza, located at University Avenue and Emerson Street, has long enjoyed a status as the city's "free speech" zone and is often used by musicians.

But the entertainment at Lytton Plaza hasn't always been music to the ears of local merchants. In recent months, businesses have lobbied the city to impose time and use restrictions on amplified sound at the plaza. Merchants have complained that the sound during daytime is too loud while residents said the music is too loud late at night.

According to a new report from the Community Services Department, the electrical outlets in the plaza had other "unintended consequences."

"People have used the outlets to power portable stereos, heaters, stoves and various other household outlets," the report states. "The plaza has become a 'draw' for people seeking use of 'free' electricity."

The city's Parks and Recreation Commission has spent more than a year considering a variety of ideas for dealing with the problem. After scrapping a prior plan that would have required permits for amplified sound, the commission voted on Aug. 28 to accept a less stringent proposal that would permit amplified sound on a first come, first-served basis. This would be allowed between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, between noon and 11 p.m. on Saturdays and between noon and 10 p.m. on Sundays.

There would be no permits required for using the plaza during the standard hours, but those looking to reserve a time in advance can obtain a permit for $90. City-sponsored and permitted events would have priority.

The council will consider this proposal on Nov. 19.

Comments

Loudness
Community Center
on Nov 15, 2012 at 11:41 am
Loudness, Community Center
on Nov 15, 2012 at 11:41 am
Like this comment

It would also help if they turned down the water pressure on the very loud pseudo-fountain.


Anon.
Crescent Park
on Nov 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm
Anon., Crescent Park
on Nov 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm
Like this comment

Yeah, that fountain is a joke, and so are most of the people who hang out in Lytton Plaza ... me and my girlfriend get nervous just walking through there.

I see no problem in turning the volume down a bit though, but I bet it doesn't help those who are doing the complaining.


White
University South
on Nov 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm
White, University South
on Nov 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


BS
Midtown
on Nov 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm
BS, Midtown
on Nov 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm
Like this comment

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Ducatigirl
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm
Ducatigirl, Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm
Like this comment

Personally, I enjoy the music, but there are often some pretty sleazy types hanging out on that corner, which can be unnnerving at night. I wish they would do something about THAT.


the_punnisher
Registered user
Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm
the_punnisher, Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm
Like this comment

A question: Is the set of outlets often overloaded by too many heavy wattage devices plugged in and used at the same time? The City could be liable if damages occur if this " free electrical outlet " use damages property...

I suggest that a lock box ( an easy addition ) be put over the outlets. The key to be given when a waiver is signed and hours to be used listed.

That allows equal time for anyone AND keeps people safe.


stretch
another community
on Nov 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm
stretch, another community
on Nov 15, 2012 at 5:03 pm
Like this comment

I thought they handled the subject of noise in Lytton Plaza about 40 years ago! They simply came in unplugged everything and started a riot where, what, about 175 people were busted. It was actually pretty funny, because the Red Squad, a group of undercover cops who were spraying people with mace and hitting them with batons, were disbanded soon afterwards. The cops also spent a lot of time peering through Venetian blinds from upstairs, across the street. I'm pretty sure Palo Alto could bestir itself to come down hard on these gross-offending noisemakers once again.


musical
Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm
Like this comment

@punnisher, pardon my ignorance. How would outlet overloading damage property? 110V is 110V, until the circuit breaker pops and it becomes 0V. I assume the City followed its own code about circuit breakers. Anyone know the amp rating?


Loudness
Community Center
on Nov 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm
Loudness, Community Center
on Nov 16, 2012 at 6:24 pm
Like this comment

Apropos the noisy AT&T boxes, AT&T is now on the Board of the local Chamber of Commerce. So much for local.
Richard Hackmann, a Management Specialist with the City of Palo Alto is also on that board. Right in there with the bankers, real estate sellers, and Stanford reps.


belly laugh
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm
belly laugh, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2012 at 5:48 pm
Like this comment

When the police walk by, they can ask the musician if he has written permission from the copyright owner to play the song. If not, he can be cited, 5 years in jail and a fine.

This would control the noise.


Neal
Community Center
on Nov 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm
Neal, Community Center
on Nov 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm
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I avoid Lytton Plaza at all costs. What's to like? It's noisy and unattractive. When it comes to noise, the only thing worse is the new Apple store. Lytton Plaza is nothing to be proud of. The City will only pretend to fix the problem.


Loudness
Community Center
on Nov 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm
Loudness, Community Center
on Nov 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm
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I agree it's loud and ugly.amd severe/ Awful "water feature". Hard surfaces, shiny hard metal tables and chairs. They destroyed the beautiful brick floor which was in good shape, maybe a few bricks needed replacing. And they destroyed the trees and flowers and handsome light fixtures. It needed sprucing up, not sterilization. Thanks ARB, thanks Roxy.
The thinking was to make it unattractive to people gathering and the restaurant could use most of it.


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